J.D.R. Hawkins

One bullet can make a man a hero… or a casualty.

Archive for the tag “Union”

Haunted Gettysburg and the Farnsworth House

One of the most haunted Civil War battlefields, and places on Earth, for that matter, is Gettysburg. I have been there several times and attended a ghost tour, but I failed to witness any apparitions. The town and battlefield did inspire me to write a book, however, and the book became a series called the Renegade Series. My husband and I stayed overnight once in the Farnsworth House, which is a beautiful home that has been converted into a bed and breakfast. The interior is filled with gorgeous antiques. Bulletholes are visible on the outside brick of the house, which makes you wonder what it would be like. If only its’ walls could talk.

 It should come as no surprise that hauntings have taken place in various parts of the country in regard to the Civil War since the war ended. In fact, stories and folklore have been passed down about ghosts appearing even before the War Between the States.


Disputably, the most haunted place is Gettysburg. This is because the town rests on what is known as a “lei line,” where two intersecting fractures in the earth’s crust meet. It has something to do with energy fields beneath the earth’s surface.
Within Gettysburg, probably the most haunted place is the Farnsworth House. Now an inn, the Farnsworth House has seen its share of violence. Confederate sharpshooters used the garret (attic) as a vantage point to fire upon Union troops positioned on Cemetery Hill. One bullet fired by a sharpshooter supposedly traveled down the street, hitting Jennie Wade, who was the only civilian killed during the battle. Afterward, the house was used as a Federal headquarters.

There are over 100 bullet holes visible on the south side of the house, and some of the bullets that were lodged in the brickwork are on display inside. The house boasts a fabulous restaurant, a cozy tavern decorated with memorabilia from the movie, “Gettysburg,” and the guest rooms are decorated in beautiful Victorian style. Guests and staff have witnessed strange occurrences on several occasions. Some of the servers have had mysterious encounters, claiming that someone or something yanks on their aprons. Others have seen apparitions in the forms of women in period dress and soldiers, or have been tapped on the shoulder. Phantom footsteps echo through the two-story house, and strange, eerie shadows abound. The Farnsworth House sponsors ghost tours, and has a seance room in the spooky basement to replicate the Victorian notion of communicating with the dead.

Haunted Gettysburg and the Farnsworth House

One of the most haunted Civil War battlefields, and places on Earth, for that matter, is Gettysburg. I have been there several times and attended a ghost tour, but I failed to witness any apparitions. The town and battlefield did inspire me to write a book, however, and the book became a series called the Renegade Series. My husband and I stayed overnight once in the Farnsworth House, which is a beautiful home that has been converted into a bed and breakfast. The interior is filled with gorgeous antiques. Bulletholes are visible on the outside brick of the house, which makes you wonder what it would be like. If only its’ walls could talk.

 It should come as no surprise that hauntings have taken place in various parts of the country in regard to the Civil War since the war ended. In fact, stories and folklore have been passed down about ghosts appearing even before the War Between the States.


Disputably, the most haunted place is Gettysburg. This is because the town rests on what is known as a “lei line,” where two intersecting fractures in the earth’s crust meet. It has something to do with energy fields beneath the earth’s surface.
Within Gettysburg, probably the most haunted place is the Farnsworth House. Now an inn, the Farnsworth House has seen its share of violence. Confederate sharpshooters used the garret (attic) as a vantage point to fire upon Union troops positioned on Cemetery Hill. One bullet fired by a sharpshooter supposedly traveled down the street, hitting Jennie Wade, who was the only civilian killed during the battle. Afterward, the house was used as a Federal headquarters.

There are over 100 bullet holes visible on the south side of the house, and some of the bullets that were lodged in the brickwork are on display inside. The house boasts a fabulous restaurant, a cozy tavern decorated with memorabilia from the movie, “Gettysburg,” and the guest rooms are decorated in beautiful Victorian style. Guests and staff have witnessed strange occurrences on several occasions. Some of the servers have had mysterious encounters, claiming that someone or something yanks on their aprons. Others have seen apparitions in the forms of women in period dress and soldiers, or have been tapped on the shoulder. Phantom footsteps echo through the two-story house, and strange, eerie shadows abound. The Farnsworth House sponsors ghost tours, and has a seance room in the spooky basement to replicate the Victorian notion of communicating with the dead.

Strange Encounters

With Halloween approaching, I thought I’d share a few bizarre experiences I’ve had in regard to the Civil War. As you know, many battlefields, houses, cemeteries, and ex-prisons are known to be haunted. There have been ghostly sightings in all of these places. The spirit of President Lincoln was actually seen in the White House by Grace Coolidge, Winston Churchill, and Dwight D. Eisenhower, to name a few. Scores of cemeteries are said to be haunted, as well as private homes like the Carnton Plantation outside of Nashville. And of course, every Civil War battlefield has a ghost or two.

I have personally been to a lot of these battlefields, and I can attest that, although I didn’t see actual apparitions, I could defiinitely feel a presence. Shiloh was very eerie, especially when we drove through it at night. It seemed as though there were tiny orbs flying around in the trees, and I was just waiting to catch a glimpse of a soldier running toward us holding a shotgun.

Another scary experience I had was at the reinactment of the Battle of Chickamauga. The reinactment was interesting in that the spectators were practically on the battlefield with the soldiers. It was a little too close for comfort! But the scariest thing was that the organizers of the event decided to put all the authors in a tent, and then they tethered a cow at the entrance of the tent. Talk about bizaare! Needless to say, the cow scared away most of the visitors, and it wasn’t even a ghost!

I’ll have to say that the most profound experience I’ve had in relation to the Civil War happened to me when I was in Virginia. The Grafitti House, located near Culpeper, was the sight of many battles, including the largest cavalry battle to take place on American soil, the Battle of Brandy Station. The Grafitti House was used as a field hospital. Both Union and Confederate soldiers stayed there, and while convelescing, they drew pictures on the walls. The pictures were later covered with wallpaper. It wasn’t until recently that the drawings and signatures were discovered, just before they were going to tear down the house. Numerous horseshoes have been found in the area, as well as bullets, and a bayonet was discovered inside the chimney. Now the Grafitti House is a tourist attraction. When I was there, I definitely felt a presence. I walked into one of the upstairs rooms and was suddenly overcome with an oppresive feeling of dread, so much so that I felt like I was going to pass out. As soon as I crossed the threshold into the hallway, the feeling instantly vanished. I can’t say what caused this feeling, but I’m sure someone else was there with us, someone unseen.

Treasure Hunting

It always fascinates me how people can manage to find amazing relics. When we visited Brandy Station and the Graffiti House several years ago, some of the locals told me about how they had almost demolished the old building, but then found invaluable drawings done by both Confederate and Union soldiers. The artwork had been hidden under wallpaper. Fortunately, it was discovered and the house was restored. It is now a museum. While they were restoring it, someone looked in the chimney and found an old bayonet. Amazing! Some of the locals told me how a neighbor had found so many horseshoes that he used them as a foundation for his driveway. What I wouldn’t do to have just one of those old horseshoes!

Graffiti House, Brandy Station, Virginia
Drawing inside Graffiti House

When we lived in Mississippi, several friends told me about how they would go out to where they knew armies had camped. They took their metal detectors and found all sorts of interesting things: from belt buckles to buttons to bullets and then some. One friend told us of how he had been plowing in his field and unearthed a sword in its scabbard. The scabbard was rusted, but the sword was just like brand new. What a find!

I have always wanted to add a cavalry sword to my collection, so I splurged and bought one off of Ebay. It is Confederate and doesn’t have any markings. These swords were called “wrist breakers” because they are so heavy and hard to wield. I don’t know much else about the sword and probably never will, since the seller didn’t know much either, except that it is an M1840 that he purchased at an antique arms show about 5-6 years ago in Virginia. Nevertheless, it’s pretty cool, and I have it displayed on the wall above my work station.

Several years ago, I also aquired this framed specimen at a United Daughters of the Confederacy convention in Richmond. The collection includes camp chest hardware, an R.R. seal, a button back, a shoe buckle, and miscellaneous brass. These items were supposedly excavated from central Virginia from Civil War camps and battlefields. The description is a bit vague, but still interesting.

I would love for you to share any treasures you have discovered. It is always enthralling to discover these artifacts and bring history to life. I’d also like to know how you found your treasures, so please, share away!

Here’s to the Irish!

March is Irish heritage month, and because I’m part Irish, I feel very compassionate about my ancestors and what they had to go through. They risked their lives to be free of English tyranny, escape starvation in their beautiful, native country, and sail across the Atlantic to an unknown existence based solely on here say. They arrived in America to ridicule and rampant discrimination. This country has a rich Irish history due to their stamina and determination, not to mention their wonderful sense of humor. Many Irishmen fought on both sides during the Civil War. Some were recruited fresh off the boat, while others enlisted by their own design. The famous Irish Brigade still exists today, and many Irish fought for the Southern side as well. Here is one example.

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Predominantly Irish Regiment

A predominantly Irish regiment, over 1,000 strong, the 6th Louisiana Volunteer Infantry was raised in New Orleans just after the state had seceded. It was organised by June of 1861 at Camp Moore and went on to become one of the hardest fighting regiments in the Confederate Army, seeing action in most of the major battles in the Eastern Theatre.

By War’s end, place names like Port Republic; Sharpsburg; Gettysburg; Spotsylvania & Petersburg (to name JUST a few) would adorn the colours of the regiment.

Headstone

By the time it surrendered at Appomattox in April 1865, the 6th LA. had fewer than 75 men in it’s ranks.

The ten companies that made up the 6th Louisiana Volunteer Infantry were designated thus:

Co. A- “Union & Sabine Rifles”: Co.B- “Calhoun Guards”; 

Co.C- “St. Landry Light Guards”; Co.D- “Tensas Rifles”; 

Co.E- “Mercer Guards”;

Co.F-“Irish Brigade, Company B”; Co.G- “Pemberton Guards”; 

Co. H- “Orleans Rifles”; 

Co.I- “Irish Brigade, Company A”; 

Co.K- “The Violet Guards”

The flag accompanying this post is the flag of Co.H, “The Orleans Rifles”, 6th Louisiana Volunteer Infantry.

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Article forwarded by Liam McAlister, (Irish in Blue & Gray, 1861-1865).

(Courtesy of The Southern Comfort, Private A. Hughey Camp 1452 Sons of Confederate Veterans, Military Order of the Stars and Bars, vol. 40, issue #8, August 2016 ed.)

 

The Name Change Game Goes On

I think it’s crazy that this is even a thing, but apparently, political correctness has affected (infected?) every aspect of American society. Now the military is getting in on the act, or is, at least, is under attack, and some branches are caving.

Lee

MILITARY BRANCHES SENDING “MIXED” ORDERS
The U.S. Army does not plan to change the names of several bases named after Confederate war heroes, despite a broader effort in some states to remove such tributes.
“We have no plans to rename any street or installation, including those named for Confederate generals,” an Army spokesperson told Task & Purpose. The service will instead continue with the existing names of many well known military bases and installations.
“It is important to note that the naming of installations and streets was done in a spirit of reconciliation, not to demonstrate support for any particular cause or ideology,” the U.S. Army spokesperson continued. “The Army has a tradition of naming installations and streets after historical figures of military significance, including former Union and Confederate general officers.”
Among the list of Army bases named after Confederate leaders are: Fort A.P. Hill, Fort Bragg, Fort Benning, Fort Gordon, Fort Hood, Fort Lee, Fort Pickett, Fort Polk, Fort Rucker and Camp Beauregard.
The Army’s statement comes immediately after U.S. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger ordered the removal of all Confederate flags and “paraphernalia” from Marine bases, effective immediately.
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Some Statues Are Still Sacred

Bless Mississippi for standing true to her flag and protecting her Confederate statues. I only wish other Southern states would hold as true to their honorable history as the Magnolia State. The destruction/desecration of Confederate monuments is alarming. How weird would it be if, sometime in the future, only statues of Union soldiers existed? What about the other half of the story?

ms-monument_1

MISSISSIPPI STATE MONUMENT TO BE REDEDICATED FOLLOWING SUCCESSFUL RESTORATION

Monument was originally dedicated in 1909 

Date: October 16, 2019 Contact: Scott Babinowich, NPS, (601) 642-6881 Contact: Bess Averett, Director of Friends of Vicksburg NMP(601) 831-6896 

On November 11, 2019 at 2:30 p.m., Vicksburg National Military Park, the State of Mississippi, and the Friends of Vicksburg National Military Park and Campaign will re- dedicate the Mississippi State Monument within Vicksburg National Military Park. 

Earlier this year, the National Park Service’s Historic Preservation Training Center completed an extensive restoration and repair project that included masonry repairs, testing of the monument’s lightning suppression system, and a thorough cleaning. Funds for the $75,000 project were donated by the State of Mississippi and championed by the Friends of Vicksburg National Military Park and Campaign. 

A brief ceremony will take place at the Mississippi State Monument, along Confederate Avenue within Vicksburg National Military Park, and feature several speakers who were involved in the project. More details will be announced closer to the event. 

The Mississippi State Monument was dedicated on November 12, 1909 and honors the sacrifice of Mississippi’s 32 infantry units, 17 artillery units, and 37 cavalry units which served in the 1863 Vicksburg Campaign of the Civil War. The monument was designed by R.H. Hunt of Chattanooga, TN and constructed at a of cost $32,000. 

The event is free and open to the public. 

(Article courtesy of The Jeff Davis Legion, Official Publication of the Mississippi Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, October 2019 ed.)

 

Antietam (Sharpsburg) Remembered

Today marks the 157th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam. It was a game changer in many ways. Mostly, it gave President Lincoln a vehicle to bring his Emancipation Proclamation to life and give it authenticity. Prior to the battle, slavery wasn’t the prominent reason for the onset of the Civil War. But by September 1862, Lincoln realized he needed a more poignant excuse to fight the South and thus recruit more Union soldiers. However, at that time, neither North or South had any interest in fighting to preserve or end slavery. It was about economics, westward expansion, and the invasion of the South by Union troops. Slavery at that time was an underlying issue. Even Lincoln didn’t care about setting slaves free. That’s why the Emancipation Proclamation didn’t apply to Northern slave-holding states.

The Battle of Sharpsburg (Antietam) was, and still is, the bloodiest day of fighting in American history. Terrible casualties occurred, and Antietam Creek ran red with blood, literally, from all the dead soldiers bleeding along its banks into the water.

Antietam Battle Page Hero_0

Dead Confederate soldiers at Dunker Church (Alexander Gardner/Library of Congress)

At that time, most Americans didn’t have any comprehension about the carnage of war, especially if they were far removed from the battlefields. Enter Mathew Brady, as well as his field photographer, Alexander Gardner. These two men changed the way people would forever see war – not as the heroic and glamorous way previous wars were depicted in paintings, but as gruesome, in-your-face, black and white reality.

Two days after the battle ended, Garner ascended on the battlefield with his crew. It’s obvious that some of the photos were staged, but they would still prove to be shocking to naive Victorians, nevertheless. The photographs were displayed in New York at Brady’s studio, and the exhibit was titled “The Dead of Antietam.”

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Burying the dead on the battlefield of Antietam (Alexander Gardner/Library of Congress)

These shocking photos were described by the New York Times, which stated that Brady was able to “bring home to us the terrible reality and earnestness of war. If he has not brought bodies and laid them in our door-yards and along streets, he has done something very like it…”

The American Battlefield Trust has preserved the epicenter of the battlefield, as well as 461 additional acres and over 2,000 acres of the Maryland Campaign, “ensuring that generations of today and tomorrow never forget the sacrifices made on this hallowed ground.”

If you would like to donate to this noble cause, please visit their website:

https://www.battlefields.org/?emci=43a144bd-2dd6-e911-bcd0-2818784d4349&emdi=61842fa2-57d9-e911-b5e9-2818784d6d68&ceid=315208

Reenactment Saved

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As of last week, it seemed that a staple in the Civil War reenacting world, the annual Battle of Gettysburg reenactment, had been cancelled next year. The organization that has been sponsoring the event, the Gettysburg Anniversary Committee (GAC), posted on their website:

The Gettysburg Anniversary Committee (GAC) would like to extend their gratitude and appreciation to all the reenactors, visitors, and local staff that have participated in the Annual Gettysburg Civil War Battle Reenactments for the past 25 years; making those dusty old history books come alive. We are honored to have hosted over 100,000 reenactors, 500,000 visitors, and provided well over 1000 community staff positions. GAC has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to many worthy community organizations and supported our community economically. At this time, GAC does not anticipate organizing or hosting a 157th Reenactment.  Please refer to Destination Gettysburg’s Event Schedule for a wide array of historical, cultural and entertaining events in the Gettysburg and Adams County area throughout the year.”

How sad to end a well-participated event after doing it for 25 years. According to GAC’s Operations Manager, Randy Phiel, reeanactors’ aging demographic and varied visitor interest indicates “the hobby is declining somewhat.” He also said reenactments are most successful every five years, so spreading them out may build anticipation and visitor interest.

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Fortunately, someone has come to the rescue. According to The Washington Times, a veteran Civil War reactor from Pennsylvania plans to take over the 2020 reenactment next July. Dustin Heisey, who has been participating in reenactments since he was 14 years old, says he wants to keep the tradition alive.

“My primary focus is, let’s bring honor back into our hobby and, we’re portraying these men who sacrificed so much for their country, I want them to be remembered and I think it should be done every year,” Heisey told The (Hanover) Evening Sun.

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https://gettysburgreenactment.com

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2019/sep/8/gettysburg-reenactment-saved-reenactor-after-organ/

 

The Facts Are Alarming

I just read an article written by a former Southern governor, stating that all Confederate monuments were erected to celebrate white supremacy. This is so offensive and off base that I wanted to post the following list in order to show how wrong this attitude is. The fact is, most Southern soldiers fought to protect their homes and ward off the advancing enemy. Let me know what your thoughts are on the subject. Thanks again so much for reading my blog!

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

TOWNS BURNED BY THE CONFEDERATE ARMY

1. Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, July 30, 1864

Chambersburg

TOWNS BURNED BY THE UNION ARMY

(from the Official Records):

1. Osceola, Missouri, burned to the ground, September 24, 1861

(The town of 3,000 people was plundered and burned to the ground, 200 slaves were freed and nine local citizens were executed.) *

2. * Platte City, Mo – December 16, 1861 – (“ColonelW. James Morgan marches from St. Joseph to Platte City. Once there, Morgan burns the city and takes three prisoners — all furloughed or discharged Confederate soldiers. Morgan leads the prisoners to Bee Creek, where one is shot and a second is bayonetted, while thethird is released. ”)

3. Dayton, Missouri, burned, January 1 to 3, 1862

4. Frenchburg, Virginia (later West Virginia), burned, January 5, 1862

5. Columbus, Missouri, burned, reported on January 13, 1862

6. Bentonville, Arkansas, partly burned, February 23, 1862

(a Federal search party set fire to the town after finding a dead Union soldier, burning most of it to the ground)*

7. Winton, North Carolina, burned, February 20, 1862

8. Bluffton, South Carolina, burned, reported June 6, 1863

(Union troops, about 1,000 strong, crossed Calibogue Sound and eased up the May River in the pre-dawn fog,

surprising ineffective pickets and having their way in an unoccupied village. Rebel troops put up a bit of a fight, but gunboats blasted away as two-thirds of the town was burned in less than four hours. After the Yankees looted furniture and left, about two-thirds of the town’s 60 homes were destroyed.”)*

9. Baton Rouge, Louisiana, burned, August 5 & 21, 1862

10. Donaldsonville, Louisiana, partly burned, August 10, 1862

11. Athens, Alabama, partly burned, August 30, 1862

12. Prentiss, Mississippi, burned, September 14, 1862

13. Randolph, Tennessee, burned, September 26, 1862

14. Elm Grove and Hopefield, Arkansas, burned, October 18, 1862

15. Bledsoe’s Landing, Arkansas, burned, October 21, 1862

16. Hamblin’s, Arkansas, burned, October 21, 1862

17. Napoleon, Arkansas, partly burned, January 17, 1863

18. Mound City, Arkansas, partly burned, January 13, 1863

19. Clifton, Tennessee, burned, February 20, 1863 20. Hopefield, Arkansas, burned, February 21, 1863

(“Captain Lemon allowed residents one hour to removepersonal items, and the men then burned every house inthe village.”)*

21. Celina, Tennessee, burned, April 19, 1863

22. Hernando, Mississippi, partly burned, April 21, 1863

23. Greenville, Mississippi, burned, May 6, 1863

24. Jackson, Mississippi, mostly burned, May 15, 1863

25. Austin, Mississippi, burned, May 23, 1863

(“On May 24, a detachment of Union marines landednear Austin. They quickly marched to the town, ordered all of the town people out and burned down the

26. Darien, Georgia, burned, June 11, 1863

27. Eunice, Arkansas, burned, June 14, 1863

28. Gaines Landing, Arkansas, burned, June 15, 1863

29. Richmond, Louisiana, burned, June 15, 1863

30. Sibley, Missouri, burned June 28, 1863

31. Donaldsonville, Louisiana, destroyed and burned, June 28, 1863

 

32. Columbus, Tennessee, burned, reported February 10, 1864

33. Meridian, Mississippi, destroyed, February 3 to March 6, 1864

34. Campti, Louisiuana, burned, April 16, 1864

35. Washington, North Carolina, sacked and burned, April 20, 1864

36. Grand Ecore, Louisiana, burned, April 21, 1864

37. Cloutierville, Louisiana, burned, April 25, 1864

38. Bolivar, Mississippi, burned, May 5, 1864

39. Alexandria, Louisiana, burned, May 13, 1864

40. Hallowell’s Landing, Alabama, burned, reported May 14, 1864

41. Newtown, Virginia, ordered to be burned, ordered May 30, 1864

42. Ripley, Mississippi, burned, July 8, 1864

43. Harrisburg, Mississippi, burned, July 14, 1864

Oxford

44. Oxford, Mississippi, burned, August 22, 1864

45. Rome, Georgia, partly burned, November 11, 1864

(“Union soldiers were told to burn buildings theConfederacy could use in its war effort: railroad depots, storehouses, mills, foundries, factories and bridges. Despite orders to respect private property, some soldiers had their own idea. They ran through the city bearing firebrands, setting fire to what George M.Battey Jr. called harmless places.”)*

atlanta

46. Atlanta, Georgia, burned, November 15, 1864

47. Camden Point, Missouri, burned, July 14, 1864

48. Kendal’s Grist-Mill, Arkansas, burned, September 3, 1864

49. Shenandoah Valley, devastated, reported October 1, 1864 by Sheridan

(Washington College was sacked and burned during this campaign)*

50. Griswoldville, Georgia, burned, November 21, 1864

51. Guntersville, Alabama, burned January 15, 1865

52. Somerville, Alabama, burned, January 17, 1865

53. McPhersonville, South Carolina, burned, January 30, 1865

54. Lawtonville, South Carolina, burned, February 7, 1865

55. Barnwell, South Carolina, burned, reported February 9, 1865

56. Orangeburg, South Carolina, burned, February 12, 1865

57. Columbia, South Carolina, burned, reported February 17, 1865

58. Winnsborough, South Carolina, pillaged and partly burned, February 21, 1865

59. Tuscaloosa, Alabama, burned, April 4, 1865

Thanks to Jim Huffman with The Gainesville Volunteers, Picayune for the above places, dates and actions.

(*) information taken from: https://seekingliberty.org/2018/10/01/ the-benchmark-set-by- union-army-1861-1865/

(Article courtesy of The Southern Comfort, Private Samuel A. Hughey Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp 1452, President Jefferson Davis Chapter Military Order of the Stars and Bars newsletter, vol. 43, issue 9, September 2019)

 

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